From the Archive: Le Mans Series Revisited


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I woke up the other day and then suddenly it hit me: Le Mans Series! Eureka. The eureka moment for me came when I was sleep-walking. I mean how could I even forget about this race, eh? It looms large in my legacy.

First off, let’s dig out the original post from 2011. It’s widely regarded as Iberianmph classic. There, click there .

What happened is I reckon my brain no more than connected the dots on a subconscious level: I must have read a press release or a tweet from Rebellion Racing or spotted an article in a magazine (digital, we save paper) about Henri Pescarolo. My imagination must’ve been triggered by something, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

It could’ve been this tweet .

While I don’t follow endurance racing in the same way I do with single-seaters/open-wheel racing, there’s always an aura of something epic about endurance, some rich motorsport history as well. And don’t LMP1-LMP2-LMP3 cars look lovely? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I totally agree. To my eye, closed cockpit LMP cars are awesome. There’s no necessity for endless discussions whether we need the halo or INDYCAR’s Aeroscreen, it’s closed cockpit, done and dusted. All that matters is racing, on-track shenanigans, who’s the fastest.

It would be a shocker for purists and a monumental commerical disaster for every ‘formula something’ team if hypothetically all open-wheelers were suddenly (2B or not 2B?) banned from racing by the FIA or whatever motorsport rule-makers that still exist under the sun, and it would most certainly start a series of wars as to who’s entitled to what. No more IMSA or Le Mans, or is it no more Formula 1 and Indy? Wow, imagine that. Imagine if the rule was to have closed cockpits and closed wheels in F1, they’d have to imitate Le Mans automatically. Who would be considered the bad guy, the proverbial copycat? Miaow… Chaos, man. Yet for persone alla fabbrica di Dallara designing and producing my fictional new LMP-style F3/F2 machinery it might easily prove to be a commercial opportunity. Che follia!

And if having multiple categories squeezed into one race and sharing the same bit of tarmac works for Le Mans, why can’t it work for Formula 1? You can have your Super F1, Independents and Wild Card Entries. Just kidding, it won’t work commercially, I know. However, I’m under the impression we could turn this thing upside down or we’ll be forced to do so due to the current Corona season. It’s an opportunity, come on.

Let’s continue, though, before tweeps start going ballistic, hitting the roof and popping off in the process after reading my radical introduction to Le Mans Series. Oh, and I like Radical as well.

So yeah, the moniker ‘Le Mans Series’ takes us back to 2011 when it used to hang around in its pretty much pre-ELMS shape (in a nutshell). They ran LMP1 alongside LMP2 and GT and it was exciting. I never say no to watching LMP1 beasts tackle Estoril’s classic corners and elevation changes. Pescarolo and Rebellion were the only P1 cars in that particular race (6 HOURS OF ESTORIL), it was good enough for me regardless. Pescarolo name is synonymous with speed, I’m confident that if you gave Henri a chance to race a nuclear submarine, he’d put it on pole, yes, he’d be quick even under water IMHO; Rebellion were sort of these flashy newcomers brimming with glitz, glamour and pizzazz (reflected in their eye-catching ‘Swiss chocolate’, as I code-named it, striking livery vs Pescarolo’s vintage and slightly subdued colours, I loved both), plus they ran two cars for four very solid drivers of F1 and Le Mans fame: #13 Belicchi / Boullion and #12 Prost (Jr) / Jani; LMS made the Portuguese public an offer they couldn’t refuse, I certainly didn’t. I took it with both (clean) hands.

Pescarolo encapsulates my idea of motor racing: cosy, family, independent. French? OK, motor racing is international – has always been. Here’s a great quote from HP though .

“For the big teams, racing is just marketing. They can decide to leave at any time, when an accountant goes through some figures with his pencil – as we have seen with Peugeot. For the small teams, racing is our life. It is the only thing we do. We will not stop – until we have no more money. Then we will die. If you do not look after the small teams, and they cannot afford to race any more, you no longer have a race.”

Strong words. I think need a drink… Armagnac, Pescarolo-quick!

Also present in Estoril on the occasion were cult ex-F1 heroes like Fisichella; Emmanuel Collard, one of the mighty testers of the 1990s (Williams, Benetton, Jordan, Ligier and Tyrrell and Prost); the aforementioned Jean-Christophe Boullion; one of F1’s most mental Italians in the early noughties Gianmaria Bruni, the car he shared with Fisico DNF’d to my initial dismay. From Finland, Kimi’s mate Toni Vilander was overall P10 and P4 in the class in the Ferrari F458 Italia, LM GTE Pro. Cool dudes a’plenty.

Very safe and satisfactory indeed.

Here’s a short video which was sent to us by an anomymous fan: VIDEO, in digital colour.

Or watch it right now.

And something you won’t find anywhere else: the original PDF with race results. Digital vintage.

It turns out that Pescarolo Team’s tweet from the circuit is still around, you can relate to it as a heritage account or give it a like, like I did. Amazing stuff.

As you can already tell, I went more for the atmosphere than the technical aspect of it; I like loud cars and cannot lie. Late September in Estoril, it was a warm and bright day power-boosted by this gorgeous blue southern sky of rare quality, the smell of eucalyptus – or eucalypti – mixed with petrol ‘rising up through the air’, great crowd cheering in the grandstands. Just a perfect day at the races. As pretty as a digital picture which you’re about to see below. Makes you want to play with light and shadow and to take a thousand photos or more.

What I also love about LMS/ELMS is that if you want to create a strong first impresssion on a budget, then this is what you’ve been looking for, look no further, tweeps. You kids will poop themselves with fear, full-on code brown. In the old days, I would recommend F1 over anything, but modern Formula 1 is more akin to several species of oversized VW Beetles gathered together in a track and grooving with a Brit up front more often than not and a rare Monégasque, German, Finn or Dutch/Netherlander (Netherlander sounds rather posh). See, it makes no impression even when you read it. But yeah, we won’t be going back to thunderous F1 in the future, never ever. PlayStation generation’s offsprings, Sim generation, are going to favour the video game aspect of the sport, right across the board.

C’est la vie, as they tweet in France, the 6 HOURS OF ESTORIL eventual winner, Team Pescarolo’s home country.

Boy, did I enjoy that day!

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